Things I’ve Learned While Being Sick with Oregon Trail Disease

After three months—THREE MONTHS—of being sick with murine typhus, it seems I’ve turned the corner and am finally getting better for real.  Here’s what I learned:

  1. The frustration and depression that start setting in around Week 4 are worse than the fever and complete lack of energy.
  2. It’s really nice that all my friends kept texting me every day or two to make sure I was still alive.  But after a while I started feeling like a broken record, like I was letting them down by still being sick.
  3. It’s possible to spend ridiculous chunks of time surfing the web, watching bad television, and commenting on other people’s blogs.  Like, ridiculous amounts of time. I thought I understood the whole “Internet being a time sink” thing before, but now I really get it.  I know it’s bad, because I’ve been angsting about the fact that I won’t be able to keep up with Slashdot now that I’ll be leaving the house again.
  4. It’s also possible to get to a saturation point with bad television.
  5. My roommate described my zombie-like ill state as feeling “pixelated.”  This is my favorite new term.
  6. If I try to edit my fiction while sick, everything looks like OMG HORRIBLE BLERGH and I can’t tell the good prose from the bad.
  7. My friends who live halfway across the country sent me what is officially the Best Care Package Ever: a stuffed alligator to keep me company, a brand new set of towels in case I wasn’t up to doing laundry, a good book, and a gift certificate to Amazon in case I needed anything that I didn’t want to leave the house for but wanted brought to me instead.
  8. Having a major political election when I’m ill and bored means I end up analyzing the minutiae and getting way too invested in the results.
  9. People are really understanding.  Surprisingly understanding.  I have a problem with being a “reverse hypochondriac”—when I’m sick, I question whether I’m actually sick or am making it up; I’ve done it even when I’ve been seriously, seriously ill.  Even worse, I project this skepticism onto other people when I have to apologize for not being able to do things because of illness.  But nobody seems to think I’ve been faking being sick except me (which is good, since I wasn’t!), and everyone has been very supportive.
  10. I am now trying to keep myself from being overwhelmed thinking I have to DO ALL THE THINGS and SEE ALL THE PEOPLE I’ve neglected over the past three months.  I have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay if I take a little time to get back on top of my life.

But man.  It feels so good to be feeling better!

6 thoughts on “Things I’ve Learned While Being Sick with Oregon Trail Disease

  1. the failed poet livejournal com

    I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better! I have your tendency of questioning whether I’m really sick or not even when I’m really sick so I know how that can be a killer.

    Definitely take your time on getting back in touch with alllll the people and doing allll the things. People will understand.

  2. slhuang Post author

    Thank you!! :)

    And I’m so sorry you deal with the reverse-hypochondria thing too. It’s very frustrating psychologically, isn’t it?

  3. InMyBook

    Glad you are recovering from the marine typhus infection. It is very difficult psychologically suffering from an extended illness, especially when you are self-employed and have financial worries to factor in. It is understandable, yet counterproductive, to add to the stress by questioning whether the illness is psychosomatic. The doctors positively diagnosed it based upon a blood test, which is objective. Your thermometer showed you had a chronic fever, which is another objectively measured symptom. The lack of energy and exhaustion you felt could only be evaluated subjectively, but they are legitimate symptoms of typhus. It sounds as though your doctors and the people who know you well did not question the illness and the length of time required to recover from it. Enjoy your improving health, and give yourself the necessary time to start catching up and getting into the swing of life again after being knocked out for 3 long months.

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